Aug 10, 2021

How to empower donors at your annual event

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Donors are one of the most valuable pieces of a nonprofit or other organization. They provide both monetary resources and outward expressions of support. To survive in the nonprofit world, you must learn how to boost fundraising and appeal to donors.
Strong donors are more than personal connections — they’re part of your nonprofit’s foundation, so it’s important to ensure they feel empowered to support the organization relying on them. Your annual fundraising event offers a great opportunity to connect with donors, and we have some tips for ensuring that your communication is effective.

What it means to empower your donors

Empowering your donors means that you’re equipping them with information and the power to make a difference. Empowering your donors requires your organization to have a clear understanding of its goals. You want to effectively communicate how a donor’s contributions to your organization are helping attain those goals.Knowing how to encourage donors to give is a significant part of obtaining their gifts. While annual events are a success when you can gather donors, getting them there can be a challenge. Establish a reliable line of communications with donors to ensure that they receive the necessary information leading up to the event. Strong communication between an organization and its donors is a leading reason why donors stay connected, so be sure to prioritize staying in touch.
At your annual event, ensure that donors understand how their contributions aid the organization. Be specific and include the goals that you aim to achieve with the gifts you receive. Finally, recognize donors for annual events. Highlight the value you place on patrons and they’ll understand how meaningful their contribution was for your organization.

Empowering donors to spread your message

Equip donors with the resources they need to support your organization effectively. You should carefully plan your campaigns and take advantage of your donors’ voices to ensure that your message spreads as far and wide as possible. Social media offers practical solutions for communicating with a large audience, and your donors can help. However, it’s your responsibility to make sure that the job is easy for them.
Messages spread most effectively when they’re more than words on a screen. Include donor and donee stories to humanize your project and make it come to life. Your donors can offer testimonials explaining why they support your organization. Attach photos to give a face to the stories and your organization.
Create marketing materials and give them to your supports. Equip donors with the resources they need to complete the task you’ve asked of them. Write tweets and Facebook posts, create relevant graphics and provide email templates that they can easily share with others. 

Tips for empowering donors at your annual event

Empowering donors is essential to make them feel valued and encourage future donations. Your annual event is a great time to take advantage of the available opportunities and truly communicate your appreciation. We’ve gathered five tips for empowering donors at your donor event.

1. Keep the event interesting

While there’s an appeal to sticking with a tradition, events can get repetitive after years of the same thing. Although a method may be effective one year, it loses its luster when used too frequently. Think creatively and incorporate new twists and surprise your guests — if you host an annual auction, bring in a special emcee or unique, exciting items. Donors and other guests love annual events that are somewhat unpredictable.

2. Design fundraising merchandise

The most common way to encourage donors is to offer a piece of merchandise in return for their support. Carefully designed merchandise expresses appreciation for donors and raises awareness to boost your brand. When a donor wears a shirt that they receive from your organization, they advertise on your behalf. Simplicity is key. If your event requires staff or volunteers, present a united front by having them wear the same shirt offered to donors.

3. Offer special events

Exclusivity is a great way to empower donors. Integrate event planning and fundraising events with features or perks that are only available to donors. In order for these efforts to be effective, you must plan them carefully in advance. Create a marketing strategy that builds up to the event, ensure attendees know that there are exclusive events for specific individuals, and offer engaging opportunities during the event. Broad inclusion strategies involve donors even before they arrive.

4. Recognize donors

Organizations of all sizes should directly recognize the individuals who make their organizations possible. Social media draws attention to donors and incentivizes engagement — highlight successes in campaigns or make appreciation posts for your donors and their contributions. Physical recognition items, like plaques, certificates, and awards provide creative, long-lasting memorials for donors, and dedications build a legacy for individuals and families.

5. Develop relationships

Recognizing the contributions of donors and volunteers encourages further contributions from them in the future. An organization is characterized by how it recognizes and thanks its contributors. In addition to sending regular thank you emails to donors, express appreciation for the interest your donors express in your mission, not just their money. When you know why donors give to your organization, in particular, you’ll understand how you can expand that appeal to other individuals in the future.

Understanding why donors give

There are many reasons why donors contribute to nonprofit organizations. You should understand what makes donors decide to give to your organization, as it may help you expand those areas to attract new donors. The best way to attract donors is to be a trustworthy organization. Convince donors that your nonprofit will put their donations toward meaningful causes by being transparent and dependable.
Many donors are mission-driven and want to feel good about how they allocate their own resources, whereas others have personal connections to a particular purpose. Some individuals want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and giving to a charitable organization provides them with valuable relationships.
You should ask your donors what convinced them to give to your organization to better understand which aspects of your nonprofit are meaningful to the donors. You’ll also learn how to appeal to donors more effectively, helping you attract more patrons in the long run.

Learn more today

GiveSmart helps you connect with your donors with our platform that hosts mobile bidding and silent auctions. We’ve designed our software to be as effective as possible for nonprofits and charitable organizations, helping you centralize funds and include donors from wherever they are.
You can find out more about GiveSmart by checking out our website today. If you’re interested in starting today, request a demo with GiveSmart.

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What our clients say

We needed a platform to make sales online and to track and display ads for our sponsors. GiveSmart was perfect. We ended up making close to $15,000 more than we had hoped for. Definite better ROI than we anticipated. The interface is easy to use and provides plenty of options to get help if needed.

Michelle M.

The Rotary Club of South Whidbey Island

Using GS has created ease in auction bookkeeping, payments, and generating post-event thank you/tax letters. While we were online during COVID, our interactions with our GiveSmart via phone, email, and zoom were seamless. A representative always got back to us within the day. I would recommend GiveSmart to anyone doing a large online event.

Julie G.

MicroFinancing Partners in Africa

GiveSmart is highly flexible - you can use it for [a] simple registration and check-in, to full-scale galas with complex order forms, onsite upsells, live auctions, seating management, and more.

Jamie F.

Hope Chest for Breast Cancer

GiveSmart is easy to use and ideal for virtual events and can be used for in-person events to manage the silent auction, seating charts, and check-in to the event. Being able to use the platform for unlimited events within the contract year is very useful and being able to add other users and volunteers for different levels of access is helpful as well.

Dawn L.

Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County